Too Late

For weeks every time I took our collie Savannah on a walk we passed a beautiful vine dressed with bright red leaves hanging over a wooden fence. Every time we passed it I thought, “That’s lovely. I need to take a picture.” Then I kept walking because…it was raining…or the camera was in the other coat…or I was in a time crunch.

Today I passed that once glorious vine—and the leaves were gone. Only one leaf remained on the twisty branches, only one leaf flaunted its bright color and beauty against the fence. I was too late.

There was a couple in one of my husband’s parishes. The wife spent the days of their marriage flogging her husband. If he did dishes—she did them over because he didn’t do a good enough job. If he vacuumed the floor—she did it over because he missed spots. They lived in one of the best houses in the village and had all the furnishings and conveniences that anyone could want. He even rode the bus to work so she would have the car during the day. Still she complained: he didn’t spend enough time with the children when they were young; he didn’t help her enough around the house; he wasn’t romantic…he was a total failure as a husband. She should have married a classmate who had become a physician.

Sadly, she was a Christian. But since she didn’t apply Biblical wisdom to her marriage, she remained miserable and transferred that misery to her husband. One day, however, she got her Bible out and read it deeply. She turned to Proverbs because she thought Proverbs would be easy to understand. One verse lacerated her heart: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” She thought about how she had snapped at her husband that morning for spilling toast crumbs on the tablecloth and hanging up the towel in the bathroom crookedly. She decided to change.

She baked his favorite cake—a Victorian sponge—and prepared his favorite meal—mince and tatties. She donned her best clothes and prepared to meet him at the bus stop close to their house. She hurried to the stop. He got off the bus…staggered…and fell across the curb dead. He had suffered a heart attack.

As a writer, I would want to change this ending. I would want the wife’s sudden turn to sweetness to last and bring sunshine and roses into the last and best years of their marriage. I would want forgiveness, healing and growth. But…this is a true story. It was too late for a happy ending.

Ecclesiastes 3 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted…a time to laugh; a time to mourn…

Yes, indeed. There is a time and a season. But there is also a time when it is too late.

So love your family and your pets today and everyday and never let them doubt how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. When that last leaf falls from the vine…it is too late. Stephanie Parker McKean: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle